If you have a teen who is getting ready for her first year of college, or if you are a young adult heading off to college, it’s likely there’s some nervous excitement about the new school year. One way to alleviate this anxiety and welcome a smooth and happy transition is thorough preparation.
This week’s list is designed to help college-bound teens and young adults do just that– prepare for a successful start to their freshman year. Many actions will also help the sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are returning to their familiar college environment.
Ten Things to Do to Prepare for College
- Give your self-awareness and confidence a boost. Remind yourself of who you are and what matters to you. Take a moment to reflect on the wins of the previous year and the wisdom you gained. Read an empowering book. Two I recommend are You are a Badass by Jen Sincero or Atomic Habits by James Clear. Both will help you connect with your potential and learn new skills that will elevate all parts of your life.
- Sharpen your communication skills. Take a personal inventory of your current communication skills like making eye contact, listening, asking questions, and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions clearly. Identify your strengths and areas you’d like to improve, then practice. Use the weeks before school starts to get in the right mindset about talking to new people, including teachers and authority figures. Visualize conversations going smoothly. Trust yourself!
- Determine a system for managing your time and assignments. Consider what works best for you- a traditional planner, online calendar, time management app, or weekly to-do lists. Get the supplies you need so you can start the year with an effective system and minimize future stress.
- Create a budget. Make a list of your monthly income and expenses. Identify the expenses that are fixed and those that vary. For example, rent is a fixed expense but your budget for dining out may vary. You should aim to spend less than you earn/receive, so if your expenses are more than your income, determine where you will cut back. Set an amount that can be deposited directly into a savings account.
- Familiarize yourself with campus resources. Find out where you can get academic support and medical attention. Learn your school’s safety rules and protocols. Most of this information can be found online, so carve out an hour or so to do your research.
- Attend orientation activities. Don’t miss out on these wonderful opportunities to make new connections, familiarize yourself with campus resources, and get acquainted with your college community.
- Get to know your professors. Make a good first impression by introducing yourself to your professors, either in person or via email. Let them know that you are looking forward to the class and share any learning challenges or goals you may have. Professors are helpful resources for academic support and references for future internships or jobs.
- Talk with your roommate. As you get to know your new roommate, make a point of talking about living styles and expectations. Make agreements about people coming over or spending the night, determine your study spaces and quiet times, clarify responsibilities for cleaning, and expectations around sharing food, clothes, toiletries, etc. These conversations may feel awkward but they are essential to creating a peaceful and comfortable living arrangement.
- Envision your college experience. Be intentional about envisioning a positive college experience. See yourself doing well in your classes, making good friends, getting along with your roommate and classmates, and staying balanced and organized. Visualization is a powerful first step to manifestation and ultimately, experiencing the life you want to have.
- Trust yourself. You have wisdom and support. You have overcome challenges in the past and can figure out how to get through any challenge that may arise in college. Move forward with confidence because YOU GOT THIS!